As a former college newspaper editor, I took note of this New York Times article about Gannett’s purchase of Florida State’s student newspaper.
College journalists have always had to grapple with a variety of concerns, from soothing the ruffled feathers of administrators to keeping beer out of the newsroom. Now seems to be the time to add a new one: dealing with corporate owners.
Last week The Tallahassee Democrat, a daily paper owned by Gannett, announced that it had purchased The FSView & Florida Flambeau, the student newspaper of Florida State University, which is also in Tallahassee. Media industry analysts said that it seemed to be the first time that a college paper had been bought by a major chain, but that it might not be the last.
Colby Atwood, a media industry consultant, said that the transaction could have ripple effects. “Most college papers are really not for sale,” he said. But, “if corporate sponsorship takes hold in the college newspaper arena, a lot of colleges might be interested in taking a look, for the mentorship opportunities and financial support.”
Thinking back on all the problems I had with administrators of my college, it would have been lovely to say, “Take it up with my publisher.” What I used to say instead is, “If it didn’t happen, it wouldn’t be in the newspaper.”